Now that Keyforge is a few months old and picking up steam every day, I think it’s time to dive a little bit into the lore and setting of Keyforge starting with taking some time getting to know the seven Houses that form the key factions of the settings, and make up the forces of Archons everywhere. Thus begins our series Open House, where we will dive into both the lore of one of the Houses as well as outlining some key cards, mechanics and strategies that makes that House unique. It’s time to meet the neighbours!
Our first House, are our beloved saviours. Holy knights of pure light encased in armour. They consist of every white knight trope you can think of! Meet Sanctum.
So besides being shiny knights, what is Sanctum really? Well, Sanctum is a theocratic nation-state that live on floating islands that are described as “improbable paradises of water, stone, and green growing things” just above the mainland of the Crucible. Ruled by the Church of the Open Eye, Sanctum welcomes all folks across the Crucible who they deem are worthy and just through portals that have tethered bridges of light leading to the floating islands.
The philosophy of the Church of the Open Eye is to achieve enlightenment, which will cause one to transcend the frailties of their mortal bodies into beings of pure light. The foremost goal of the Church and Sanctum is to spread enlightenment to all of the Crucible.
Some in the Crucible are of course critical of Sanctum’s holier-than-thou attitude, citing that they are biased in judging who is “worthy” and “just” in allowing entry to their cities. Some even go so far to say that the higher echelons of the Sanctum are a species of creature made up of energy and that the path to enlighenment is a scam used to lure in followers. Sanctum does quickly purge its ranks of such heretical beliefs, however.
While the Church of the Open Eye leads the House of Sanctum, it is the Knights of Sanctum who defend it. Made up of both human and enlightened knights, both wearing imposing suits of armor. The Knights harness the properties of æmber to serve as conduit for their spiritual energy. This spiritual energy then manifests as wicked cool halos and wings.
The Knights of Sanctum are drawn to Archons, willing to offer their services in order to learn from them. To the Knights of Sanctum, the Archons are seen as god-like, an opinion that most Archons don’t mind and are willing to use to their advantage. To the Knights of Sanctum, Archons are souls made free of physical limitation, and thus are a living embodiment of their ideals of transcendence.
Using Sanctum in Your Decks
If I were to characterize Sanctum’s strength in the game, I would say that Sanctum’s best attribute is its ability to hold the battle line. Sanctum has four things going for it. First, that their creatures typically have high armor, making them very durable against low to mid power creatures. Sure, beefy boys can still outright kill them in one hit, but usually it’s at a steep cost.
The second is their high concentration of creatures that have taunt. A creature with taunt can protect its neighbouring creatures from being attacked by the enemy. This is probably Sanctum’s biggest asset as they can protect valuable creatures from being attacked. You should pay special consideration to what creatures are the most valuable to you and might be the biggest targets and pop them beside a Sanctum creature with taunt. Combined with the fact that many Sanctum creatures have good armor, this lets them be able to withstand a few attacks.
Thirdly, they have a lot of cards and creatures that allow them to capture the enemy’s æmber. Depriving your enemy of æmber is one of the vital strategies to succeeding in Keyforge, so having a lot of tanky creatures able to hold on to æmber in the long run is going to be important in succeeding with Sanctum in your deck. Alas, while capturing is great, it is not quite as good as stealing (a specialty of the House of Shadows), since you don’t get to keep the æmber to forge your own keys and once the creatures leave the field you have to return the æmber you’ve captured. But regardless, it is still handy and keeps Sanctum in the game in terms of attempting to outpace your enemies.
Finally, Sanctum is really good at healing other creatures or preventing damage done to them altogether. This is important in keeping their hold on the field, and allowing you to get as much value as you can out of your creatures. This also allows you to hit hard with the knowledge that you can patch up any wounds that your creatures incur in combat.
Key Sanctum Cards
Now I want to delve into a few of my favourite cards and explore some strategies with them. First card I want to look at is Bulwark.
Bulwark emphasises the armor aspect of Sanctum. He gets to pump up both his neighbours with +2 armor. That buff is incredible, to either keeping your already armored creatures to nigh-impenetrable shape, or to keep some weaker vulnerable creatures safe. A key strategy with Bulwark is to be sure to have one creature with taunt (like Champion Anaphiel) next to him. That way Bulwark (who is usually a pretty big target on the battle line) is protected from being attacked and he adds armor to the creature with taunt, making it harder to be killed.
Next card I want to look at, emphasises the healing aspect of Sanctum, and it is Cleansing Wave.
Cleansing Wave does double duty in healing creatures and providing the player æmber. You’ll want to wait until you’ve done an all out assault against the enemy so that you can milk the best value out of this card. Also keep in mind that it heals each creature, so this also includes enemy creatures, but you’ll still get æmber for healing them. With this in mind you might want to target tankier creatures on the opponent’s side so that their creatures still survive and provide you with much needed æmber. Obtaining æmber is typically much more important in Keyforge than clearing the battle line. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with taking out key creatures on your opponent’s side and patching your guys up afterwards.
Finally I want to look at my favourite card (so far) for Sanctum: Epic Quest.
Epic quest is well…epic. It’s a card that can snag a quick key for no æmber as long as you play seven Sanctum cards. It does require some planning to pull off, however. For example having a field of Sanctum knight cards will let you archive all of them which will be key to getting to that seven card turn. You’ll want to wait until you’re close to being able to pull off playing seven cards before playing Epic Quest however, since the opponent will likely try and sabotage you, as forging a key for free makes this artifact a huge target. Watch out for decks that have Brobnar, Shadows or Dis, as they will have the most cards that can destroy or otherwise disrupt artifacts in play. Also watch out for Gorm of Omm from other Sanctum decks, as this will also get in your way.
Finally, in my experience, I’ve enjoyed waiting until I have two keys already, as this is a good way to blitz your victory.
I find Sanctum to be like my grandma. I love her, and she’s always there for me. She’s reliable, but a little predictable. Sanctum takes the white knight and zealous church tropes and doesn’t really do much new with them. I like that the Sanctum faction comes off as well-meaning if a bit flawed in their theocratic dogma, which departs from of the frenzied fanatic depictions of church-states in other games/media, but there isn’t much new that I haven’t seen before.
Mechanically speaking, I like the Sanctum cards, even if they don’t do much to excite me. They’re reliable, tough, and always welcome in my decks. I am excited to see how future sets of Keyforge may flesh out Sanctum’s narrative, however. So who knows? Maybe there will be something new over the horizon for the famed shiny knights?
For our next House, we will fall from the heavens to the demonic depths of Dis. Stay tuned, Keyforgers!